Christians are accountable to God. In this section we will discuss four important responsibilities we have as disciples of Jesus Christ: to love, serve, give, and forgive.
Responsible to Love
Christians should love because we are loved. We know what true love looks and feels like because we know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The love of Christ transforms us. It should flow out of us onto all that we meet. Having been blessed in this way, we are called to share this love and are accountable to love God and love others.
Love God. In response to a question regarding the greatest commandment of the Law, Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command” (Matt 22:37-38). Christians must remember that everything we do must be motivated by our love for God. He is our Creator, Ruler, Sustainer, and Provider. The Bible tells us that “we love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). True faith is shown in our love for God.
Love Others. Jesus, in His response about the great commandment, continued by saying: “The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt 22:39-40). Jesus intentionally mentioned this second commandment because our love for God is demonstrated by our love for others. The Apostle John wrote: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20). John also quoted Jesus: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). We cannot hate one another and love God.
Responsible to Serve
Christians should serve God and others. This is important because Jesus tells us in John 13 that we are servants and not kings. Jesus’ ministry is summarized in Matthew 20:28, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Jesus came to serve, not be served and we are called to imitate our Lord. We may think that the world would be a much better place if everyone did whatever we wanted, but we are not called to tell people what to do but to serve them. Jesus tells us that we should not strive to be the greatest but a servant (Luke 22:26). We should devote ourselves to serving others out of love for them and in order to lead them to Christ. We can be much more effective in our service than in our demands.
Responsible to Give
Christians should give. An important aspect of giving involves money and possessions. Christians are not owners, but managers. The money and possessions you have are God’s gift to you and He is the owner. While it is important to work hard, we must remember that all we have comes through God’s grace. Even though you do not own them, you are still responsible for them. Remember, a manager is employed to manage particular things on behalf of the owner. Managers are entrusted and responsible. The manager works for the owner and is held accountable to the owner.
How then shall we properly manage God’s money in a manner that pleases Him? We use it to further God’s agenda–“to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10)–and not our own. We must be on guard against greed. Greed is dangerous because it is the belief that everything we have is for us. Andy Stanley defines greed as “the assumption that everything is for my consumption.” We must not be selfish hoarders, but should be cheerful givers (2 Corinthians 9:7).
A few Bible verses will help us better understand. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 4:7, “For who makes you so superior? What do you have that you didn’t receive? If, in fact, you did receive it, why do you boast as if you hadn’t received it?” Therefore, give for the glory of God. What are some practical ways we can give? A helpful way to remember is that we give our time, talent, and treasure.
Give Your Time
Who owns your time? We always make time for what is important. If you believe that God is most important, then you will give all of your time to God as a “living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1). This means you are diligent to give your schedule to God and ask Him to fill in the appointments and set the agenda. Also consider:
- What occupies most of your time? Does it contribute to or hinder your spiritual growth and maturity?
- What occupies most of your thoughts? Is it good, holy, and pure? Or not?
- Do you make time during the week for worshiping God at your local church?
Give Your Talent
Who gave you your talents? We have been created, designed, and gifted by God for His glory and our good. Each of us have been given talents and gifts and are expected to use them. If you use your talent for God’s glory then you will be blessed, but if you do not use your talent for God’s glory then you will be disciplined (Matt 25). Consider:
- Are you using your gifts and talents selfishly or for the benefit of others?
- Are you using your gifts and talents so that people will grow in spiritual maturity and have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
Give Your Treasure
To whom are you accountable for your money? Every dollar that you have in your possession has been given to you by God. He is the rightful owner and He has given it to you to manage. Christians, according to the Bible, are not owners of their money and possessions but managers. As managers of God’s resources we will one day give an account of what we did with it. Consider:
- Do you admit that everything belongs to God and you are not the owner but a manager of it?
- Do you give cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7) to your local church? To good causes?
- Do you fail to give a portion of your income back to God because you are afraid you will not have enough to live on? Remember, giving is an act of faith that you are trusting God to take care of you. Trust Him and give cheerfully.
Responsible to Forgive
Christians should forgive. Conflict is inevitable. God knows this and a sure sign of Christian maturity is not how well you avoid conflict, but how you respond to conflict. We must be willing to forgive one another and be forgiven by one another. This is not optional for a Christian; it is commanded. Jesus said in Matthew 6:14, “If you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well.” But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your offenses. Paul echoes this in Ephesians 4:32: “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.” It is disheartening to hear of Christians who harbor bitterness and resentment against others and refuse to forgive. Lack of forgiveness is dangerous. It may mean that a person does not understand forgiveness because they have never received forgiveness from God. Ask God to help you forgive others. Allow the motivation for your forgiveness of others be His forgiveness of you. Release resentment and be healed.